Biostar Z690 Valkyrie review
Valkyrie that can protect even the Odin itself?
Meet the Biostar Z690 Valkyrie motherboard. This product is from a series that already appeared using the Z590 chipset in the past. What does this name mean? It’s the name of Odin’s twelve handmaids who conducted the slain warriors of their choice from the battlefield to Valhalla. The series was introduced with Z590 Valkyrie. But coming back to the reviewed board – it is very expensive, as the MSRP is 599 USD (about 150 USD more than its predecessor), so it’s aimed at the high-end range of the market (and it’s rather crowded there). For 629 USD, you can find the MSI Z690 Unify, and for about 600 USD, there’s an Asus Maximus Z690 Hero available. There are two variants of the model, one that has the DDR5 support (and we’ll be checking that) and the one called Z690A Valkyrie (for 579 USD). There’s also another Biostar model with a Z690 chipset and DDR4 support. It’s a Z690 GTA (priced at 399 UD).
Ok, as mentioned above, this is not a new series, and it’s a minor (visual) upgrade over the Z590 Valkyrie. The Biostar Z690 Valkyrie uses an (almost all) black design on an all-black PCB. There are gold (which is not so bad) and pink (that’s worse) accents. This is a 30.5 x 24.4 cm product, and that’s typical of the ATX form factor. It’s equipped with the Z690 chipset, and it offers such features as a 20-phase power design, 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, and built-in Wi-Fi hardware antennas, etc, but not the module itself?!
As for features that would make it stand out from the crowd of other Z690 products (from other manufacturers), well, that would probably be just the metal backplate and specific design (which not all would like). Nothing more is any better (in theory) than the competitors. The Biostar Z690 Valkyrie includes three full-length PCIe slots. The top two slots support PCIe 5.0 x16 and x8/x8; the third slot is PCIe 4.0 x16 (x4 mode). You can find one Ethernet controller on this board: a Realtek RTL8125B with 2.5 Gbe support. The wireless connection is theoretically possible, but there is no card for that (sic!). There are four M.2 Sockets for your SSDs: three of them support PCIe Gen4 x4, and one is PCIe Gen3 x4. You also get eight SATA ports. As for the audio, you get the Realtek ALC1220 codec. The power section is really good, as it’s a 20-phase design that should help handle even the most demanding CPUs, such as the Core i9 12900K, or the i7 12700K. Premium 105A Power Chokes aid it. Four memory slots support up to 128 GB total DDR5-6000. There is some good information for RGB fans: one regular (12V) RGB LED header and two addressable (5V) RGB LED headers. Onboard power and reset buttons are located in the top-right; a two-digit LED debugger sits in the bottom-right. Lighting can be synchronized using the LED Rock Zone with Vivid D.J. software. So what does Z690 mean in reality?
DDR5 and PCIe Express 5.0 are among the first-ever for Intel products. Z690 is the enthusiast chipset from Intel, and this motherboard is powered by it. It also marks the dawn of a new era; Intel’s Alder lake processors are a completely new and faster architecture. Alder Lake puts the company fully back in the multi-core ring, led by its squad of sixteen-core goliaths built on Intel’s transistor-dense 10-nanometer manufacturing process. But this time, Intel delivers its interpretation of the term BIG.little. The new processors will have energy and performance cores to balance power consumption in idle and load conditions. The new P- and E-core design places more demands on the operating system to delegate duties more dynamically, necessitating the development of a motherboard power supply circuit that can react quickly to changes in load. In the Biostar, you can see the 20-phase power design, which should help real life. We’ll rock this Z690 motherboard with a Core i9 1290K and take it through our benchmark paces for this review. The board, as stated, is positioned in the high-end segment of a market, and it looks nice. Let’s have a closer look then, shall we?